Referrals are the best source of new business for service-oriented companies like consulting firms.
A referral happens when someone – a friend, family member, acquaintance or client – sends you a potential client.
Our experience at Hub Designs confirms this. After eight years in business, we get more than eighty percent of our business from referrals. This isn’t a big surprise, but it highlights how critical referrals are to our success.
How does one get referrals? The two most important factors are networking (being in regular contact with a lot of people), and having a strong reputation for doing great work, so that when people do refer you, they trust you to do a good job.
At Hub Designs, we’ve put in place a strategy to continually strengthen our brand and reputation, and to demonstrate our thought leadership in master data management and information governance:
- Professional web site
- Widely read blog
- Informative newsletter
- Numerous white papers and articles
- Frequent speaking engagements and webinars
- Research collaborative (the MDM Think Tank)
- Social network for MDM practitioners (the MDM Community)
- Widespread presence on social media
- Long term client engagements, with 100% willing to be a reference
- Partnerships with key software vendors
- Deep network of contacts and relationships
This is designed to help with both the networking aspect and the reputation/trust aspect. So people hear (or are reminded) about us regularly, and have proof points (articles, speaking engagements, etc.) of our expertise and ability to get the job done.
Over the past eight years, we’ve devoted a lot of time and energy to blogging and social media. At this point, our blog has 450 articles, and received more than 55,000 page views last year. Our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ have more than 10,000 friends, ‘likes’, followers, and connections.
Our newsletter has around 2,000 subscribers, and every time we send it out, I get a steady stream of e-mails and phone calls from people looking to touch base, stay in touch, and refer us to new business.
People are busier than ever – phone calls often go unreturned and e-mails go unanswered. But we try to meet them where they are: through social media, staying in touch with people on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
To be honest, Google+ hasn’t really taken off yet for us – it amounts to less than 2% of our total “social connection”. But we’re sticking with it because we’ve seen that social media can take time to pay dividends.
I’ve been on LinkedIn since 2003, on Facebook since 2007, and on Twitter since 2008. So it’s taken quite a while to build up to the 10,000-follower range, especially given that I’m a technical subject matter expert in a business-to-business area.
But just as you can “like” a Facebook post or “retweet” something on Twitter, you can refer a professional to someone you know that needs help. So the core concepts of social media apply – building your network, connecting to new people, staying in touch with folks you already know, sharing your expertise, crafting your personal brand, establishing your reputation, and so on.
In the past few months, colleagues and friends have referred Hub Designs into three new clients. I’m very grateful for this. I’m a firm believer in “karma” – essentially “what goes around, comes around” – and always try to treat people as I’d like to be treated. So it’s very heartwarming when someone goes to the trouble to make a referral, and trusts us to do a great job for a friend or colleague.
If you’d like to refer someone to Hub Designs, or just want to say “hello”, please visit our Contact Us page.
About The Author
Dan Power is the Founder & President of Hub Designs, a global consulting firm focused on strategy development, solution delivery and thought leadership for master data management (MDM) and information governance. He’s the publisher of Hub Designs Magazine, one of the first online publications for the information governance industry, with over 3,000 regular readers. Dan has written more than 35 white papers and articles, and is a frequent speaker at industry events, conferences, and webinars. To contact him, please visit http://hubdesigns.com/contact.